Hyperpolarization-activated cyclic nucleotide-gated (HCN) channels are protein channels found in the plasma membranes of heart and brain cells that regulate neuronal excitability. HCN is well-known and used for the contribution of its pacemaker function to cardiac rhythm. In addition, several studies have linked the activities of HCN channels to both epilepsy and pain.
A recent study at the Icahn School of Medicine contends HCN channels to have substantial potential as a target for major depressive disorder therapeutics. Several animal models of depression have been able to demonstrate that ionic mechanisms play a key role in neuronal homeostasis and dysregulation. Because HCN channels are confirmed to regulate neuronal excitability, they may also have a role in mediating depression-related excitability.
A recent study by Tae, et al using transgenic mice showed that gabapentin impacted several HCN4 channels and had only a slight effect on HCN1 channels. Currently, there are very few drugs known to effect individual HCN channels. Therefore, gabapentin may be useful in studying the function of HCN4 specifically.
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Ku SM, Han MH. HCN channel targets for novel antidepressant treatment. Neurotherapeutics. 2017 Jul;14(3):698-715. doi: 10.1007/s13311-017-0538-7.
Tae HS, Smith KM, Phillips AM, et al. Gabapentin modulates HCN4 channel voltage-dependence. Front Pharmacol. 2017 Aug 21;8:554. doi: 10.3389/fphar.2017.00554.